Jeff Driskel, Anthony Johnson

Les Miles confident that DT mentioned in SI feature did nothing wrong

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Yesterday, Sports Illustrated released a feature on former LSU cornerback Tyrann Mathieu. The cover story caused an uproar for making accusations that Mathieu “allowed his image to be used on a flyer promoting an event at a local night club” last March while he was still a member of the football team, which would be a violation of NCAA rule 12.5.2.1. The cover story also alleges Mathieu received benefits at the club that could affect his eligibility.

And therein lies the angle, which was explained by John Infante of the Bylaw Blog. If Mathieu is working toward rejoining the team — if LSU even considers taking him back — the reinstatement process could be a lengthy one with no guarantee that the Honey Badger would be cleared to suit up for the Tigers in 2013.

But I digress, because that’s dealing in something that hasn’t happened yet.

However, the SI feature also points out that current LSU defensive tackle Anthony Johnson was included on one flyer for a club party. That, obviously, could carry more immediate ramifications. Below is the paragraph mentioning Johnson:

Several of the Era Nation videos promote events at a Baton Rouge club called The Palace. One in particular encourages viewers to attend an Era Nation party at the club on March 10, 2012. Mathieu appears in the video, and an event promoter says “the whole LSU football team” will be there. A flyer for the party has two photographs of Mathieu in his LSU jersey and describes the event as an “Era Nation Album Release Party For Tyrann Mathieu.” It also features photographs of former LSU standout Mo Claiborne and current LSU sophomore defensive tackle Anthony Johnson, who are listed as the party’s hosts. Johnson denied any involvement; Clairborne says he was aware of the party but did not attend.

Going back to the bylaw mentioned above, any player who “accepts any remuneration or permits the use of his or her name or picture to advertise, recommend or promote directly the sale or use of a commercial product or service of any kind” is ineligible. In this case, Johnson would’ve had to allow his image to be used on the flyer for promotional purposes for his eligibility to be in question. As mentioned in the cover story, he’s already denied that.

LSU coach Les Miles also asserted confidence in his weekly SEC coaches’ teleconference that Johnson did not violate any bylaws.

“The only thing I can tell you is we’ve discussed this with Anthony, and Anthony said he participated as everyone else would participate, the cover to go in,” Miles said. “If they used his likeness they were  not given his permission and he asked to be taken off.

“I’m trying to remember this thing in March. I don’t even know that I was up to speed on it for a March event. I am told that our guys did the right things and did not participate in the planning stage or a promotional piece.”

Additionally, LSU associate athletic director Herb Vincent told the New Orleans Times-Picayune that Johnson informed school officials that he 1) had no knowledge of his photo being used on the flyer and 2) did not receive any extra benefits.

Call the rule silly and/or pointless, but it’s a rule nonetheless, and it can complicate things even if it’s difficult to trace back to the athlete in question.

Barry Switzer and Tulsa have some fun with Baker Mayfield’s arrest

DALLAS, TX - OCTOBER 10:  Baker Mayfield #6 of the Oklahoma Sooners walks off the field after a 24-17 loss against the Texas Longhorns during the 2015 AT&T Red River Showdown at Cotton Bowl on October 10, 2015 in Dallas, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
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I’m sure you’ve heard by now, but Baker Mayfield was arrested over the weekend.

Enjoying some down time in Fayetteville, Ark., Mayfield was booked on charges of public intoxication, disorderly conduct, resisting arrest and fleeing the scene.

Those last two parts have drawn the brunt of the attention since the news went public, specifically this portion from the police report:

I told Mayfield to come over to me. When I gave that command, Mayfield began to walk away from me. I repeatedly told him to stop. Mayfield then began to sprint away. I chased after him. Mayfield was tackled to the ground.

In the hours since, Mayfield has taken some shots both from within and without. First up is College Football Hall of Fame former Sooners coach Barry Switzer.

And next, oddly, comes from the official account of Tulsa athletics.

For what it’s worth, Mayfield shredded Tulsa in their one meeting to date in 2015, hitting 32-of-38 passes for 487 yards with four touchdowns and no interceptions while rushing 13 times for 85 yards and two touchdowns in a 52-38 Sooners win.

UCF announces largest financial gift in school history for athletics department renovations

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UCF announced the largest financial gift in school history from UCF alum Kenneth Dixon. The donation will help give UCF the support needed to move forward with its athletics facility upgrades, including an athletics village. Among those upgrades will be an expansion to the school’s baseball stadium and basketball facility, as well as a better atmosphere outside the football stadium for fans.

As far as the football program is concerned, the upgrades to the football operations and athletics headquarters have received a $2 million commitment to date. Most of the renovations will help bring the school’s other sports programs up to a more level playing field, but the football stadium will be given a fresh look on he outside with a plaza and promenade to make for a more inviting atmosphere for UCF fans before and after home football games.

In all, UCF is looking to invest $25 million in the renovation project, and the recent donation from Dixon has helped the school cross the $10 million benchmark.

“With more than $10 million committed to our $25 million facilities vision, our goal is to build the best Athletics Village in the nation,” UCF Athletics Director Danny White said in a released statement. “Thanks to Ken Dixon’s gift of more than $5 million, we’ve taken a major step in that direction.”

Duke QB Thomas Sirk to transfer

Duke quarterback Thomas Sirk (1) looks to pass against North Carolina during the first half of an NCAA college football game in Chapel Hill, N.C., Saturday, Nov. 7, 2015. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)
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Duke quarterback Thomas Sirk is leaving Durham in search of a new place to play football in his final year of eligibility. Duke announced Monday morning Sirk will transfer in 2017.

Sirk was recently declared a no-go for Duke’s spring football practices as he returns from an Achilles injury suffered last season. Sirk was granted an extra year of eligibility, his sixth, from the NCAA last November. It will be his final year of eligibility.

Sirk was Duke’s leading passer in 2015 with 2,625 passing yards and 16 touchdowns with eight interceptions. He was also Duke’s leading rusher that season with 803 rushing yards and eight rushing touchdowns. Naturally, he will likely be a quality dual-threat option for whatever program lands his services in 2017. As a graduate transfer, he will be eligible to play this fall at any FBS program.

Minnesota Row the Boat bobblehead features Gopher mascot rowing a boat

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - SEPTEMBER 3: Goldy, mascot for the Minnesota Golden Gophers performs before the game against the TCU Horned Frogs on September 3, 2015 at TCF Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
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With the rights to use “Row the Boat” successfully acquired through a deal with Western Michigan, Minnesota is going all in with the merchandising efforts to capitalize on the motto of P.J. Fleck. Aside from being able to use the motto for program-building measures, Minnesota has the rights to market the saying on merchandise, including an upcoming bobblehead featuring Minnesota’s Gopher mascot.

A limited edition University of Minnesota bobblehead featuring Goldy Gopher rowing a boat was unveiled on Friday by the National Bobblehead Hall of Fame and Museum. Though just an illustration now, it looks incredibly promising and I sort of want to add it to my bobblehead collection.

The bobbleheads are available for pre-order at a cost of $40.00. They should begin shipping in July of this year, in plenty of time for the first season of the Fleck era at Minnesota.